New Wiki –> TeachingFutures

turn your head

A while ago I created a post in response to recurring themes I was seeing in many blogs around creating change in our schools towards authentic, meaningful learning situations for our students and teachers.

Here is that post.

Today I finally got around to creating a wiki to continue the conversation (thanks to John Brandt for the reminder).

I’ve called it TeachingFutures and am inviting all of my wonderful readers to join and add to the conversation. I think I made it public to join, but if it isn’t, post a comment asking for an invite.

As you can probably tell from that last line, I am a wikinewbie and will be relying on your help to make this one work for us :)

Here’s a question – I have added a page, but it does not appear as a tab…is it supposed to? Will it only appear if I create a link to it from a main page? I went to edit the ‘home’ page but did not seem to have the option to keep the welcome content there, which describes a bit about how a wiki works. I’d like to keep that there for any other wikinewbies who may need it. I did manage to create a link from the menu side bar, though…woohoo!

So, to see the new page (and discussion) I started, click on the sidebar link called ‘Discovery’ when you get there.

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The Future of Teaching: Let’s continue the conversation


Since yesterday, I have been involved in a conversation on Will Richardson‘s post The Future of Teaching.

The first part of this post was originally posted as a comment to The Future of Teaching.

I am getting the idea that we, at least those of us involved in this conversation, are ready to act on new ideas. People have asked for priorities, have asked about where we go from here.

I think that something like this can help us get there. I know that Gervase Bushe has been using Appreciative Inquiry with the Vancouver Public School System. This was published in the Summer 2007 edition of the SFU Business Newsletter, the Executive Edge:


In the last Executive Edge newsletter we told you about a $150,000 three-year research project to study a change management trend called appreciative inquiry. It’s a new process that works to change the way people think – to get them thinking collectively about how they want their organization to operate.


Gervase Bushe, SFU Business associate professor of management and organizational change, who is consulting and studying the process and its outcomes at the Vancouver School Board, reported on the results of the first year of study. “Preliminary indications are that the change process has been so successful that the BC Schools Superintendents’ Association is offering appreciative inquiry training and is also planning an appreciative inquiry summit for Kelowna in August,” says Bushe. What’s more, he says, numerous BC School Districts are planning to use appreciative inquiry in their schools next year.


It’s a powerful change process, based in the very foundations that have been brought up in with Will’s post.

Here is a recent article that Gervase wrote, which I think does a great job at outlining just what Appreciative Inquiry is:

G.R. Bushe (2007). Appreciative Inquiry is not about the Positive.

He talks about the generative nature of AI:

Generativity occurs when people collectively discover or create new things that they can use to positively alter their collective future. AI is generative in a number of ways. It is the quest for new ideas, images, theories and models that liberate our collective aspirations, alter the social construction of reality and, in the process, make available decisions and actions that weren’t available or didn’t occur to us before. When successful, AI generates spontaneous, unsupervised, individual, group and organizational action toward a better future.


If we were to design an appreciative change process for our school systems I think we could find our way to get there…together.

It would begin with a conversation that has already begun not only in Will’s post that I referenced above but in various places across the blogosphere – on LeaderTalk, on Scott Mcleod‘s blog, Kevin Sandridge‘s, Barbara Barreda‘s,  Miguel Ghulin‘s, Justin Medved‘s, Dennis Harter‘s, Stephen Ransom‘s,  and many others.

Is anyone interested in continuing that conversation? I’d love to be part of the process with you.

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The tao of teaching in ambiguity

image: Shadowed Crones by Rudha’an, found on flickr and offered under a creative commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license.

What I love about keeping a blog is the insight I glean from those in my blogging community. The other day I published a post called Understanding the Machine and in one of Christopher‘s comments I found a pearl:


…but until I know who I’m going to be teaching, and how many, I’m stuck at an exploratory stage.


This describes how I feel each time I prepare for a new group, whether they be elementary school students, high school students, university students, or any of their teachers and support staff. In fact, I feel that I am always at the exploratory stage and as soon as I feel I’m not, well, it’ll be time to change gears and start teaching something new.

It also pretty much sums up the foundation of socio-constructivist approaches to teaching and learning like Differentiated Instruction.

I was always amazed at teachers who were able to create detailed course outlines at the beginning of the school year. I remember asking a colleague how he could do so before he spent some time with his students and he answered, “Simple – there are 32 chapters in the text book and 4 terms in the school year. I just do the math.”

I can’t see it as simply as that. Even for content courses with standardized testing (like Secondary IV Physical Science or History of Quebec). Until I get to know my students things are somewhat ambiguous because they make up most of the meat of anything I teach.

My job is to continuously replenish my toolkit so that I have as many options as possible to explore with my students so that I can be sure the strategies I use mesh with the way they need to learn.

I think that part of the magic of teaching is learning to live with ambiguity, yet to do so with inner authority and compassion, allowing course design to emerge based on community (classroom) needs. Oh, and to keep learning learning learning about as many different strategies as possible so that, as I create my courses (an ongoing process), I can say, wait – I know what might work here, let’s try this!

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